Voting

Voting is a check on government abuse that has interesting characteristics. It appears to be a mixed blessing. The advantage is clear. If the people vote for their representatives, who are occasionally put back to the vote, the representatives will desire to appease the people. If the representatives abuse their position or become unpopular with the people, they can be voted out. In this way, a bloodless revolution is possible. This should make revolutions easier, and a stray government will come in to line easier.

No longer can a government violate its citizens rights with only a threat of violent retaliation to fear. A threat, by the way, that is rarely acted on, has unknown chances of success, and takes quite a lot of abuse before men are willing to risk their lives, fortunes, and families to carry it through. Without voting, dictators know they can do just about anything if it's introduced in small enough doses. Voting reduces the size of the doses even more. The people will not stand for much abuse.

The disadvantages of voting are not as clear. The first disadvantage is that the threshold for pain before violence increases. With the ability to vote, people will be far less likely to resort to violence to end government abuse. If the government does act in a truly vicious manner, the populace will just tell themselves that in the next election, they'll remedy things. Of course, justice delayed may be justice lost. Some things cannot wait a few years.

Another downside to voting is that the government can hide behind the shield of being properly elected. The people begin to believe in Democracy as a good in itself, and an elected official as their voice. Calls for any number of abuses in the name of the "public good" become more reasonable if a man elected by a majority of voters says it. The effect is that public becomes more susceptible to abuse due to its camouflage.


Copyright 2001 by Jeff Landauer and Joseph Rowlands